Heritage Action today discusses the announcement that English Heritage is setting up a study of “the rates, reasons for and conservation implications of metal artefact decay in the ploughsoil“.
Metal detectorists will be hoping it will validate their claim that they are engaged in rescue archaeology (“saving artefacts before they rot”). I suspect they’ll be disappointed.[...] artefact corrosion is always in direct proportion to the strength of factors causing it so it’s bound to vary greatly from place to place. That being so, this new study may well finally show, definitively, that detecting, since it takes place not just where there’s an urgent conservation need but anywhere and everywhere permission can be gained, is not rescue archaeology.Indeed in Tom Brindle's survey of motivations for detectorists' choice of site, which I am going through today, the degree to which it is being eroded by ploughing is nowhere in the responses to his survey of artefact hunters.
Vignette: add anions and stir